How to Raise Wild Shiners


The golden shiner is among the most abundant species of fish in North America. It has become a food source for large freshwater game fish and for commercial farms. Due to its easily identified vibrant scales, this minnow is used by anglers to lure large fish into striking their lines. Golden shiners can be raised with little effort as they thrive in less-than-normal water conditions, require little food and reproduce naturally.

Things You'll Need

  • Pond, preferably 1-acre
  • 5,000 golden shiners
  • Bubble aerator
  • Gravel and various large rocks
  • Plastic trash can
  • Fish food
  • Nylon net, 6-foot
  • Ruler
  • Find a pond. A 1-acre pond would support up to 5,000 golden shiners and allow for spawning. Remove predator game fish such as bass, crappie, catfish or other aggressive fish.

  • Place a bubble aerator in the pond to help supply oxygen. Keep the pond at a constant 70 to 80 degrees to maximize egg laying.

  • Add clean gravel to the pond. Create future spawning beds for the shiners by walking several feet into the pond and scattering clean gravel into the water. Use gravel no more than 1-inch in diameter. Smooth the gravel to create an even base on the bottom of the pond.

  • Scatter larger rocks and natural cover throughout the pond to enable shiners to hide from predators. Natural cover can be driftwood, large rocks and aquatic plants that occur in the natural habitat of the golden shiner. Add a man-made obstruction by cutting the end off a trash can and weighing it down with cement blocks, leaving an open passage for shiners to swim and congregate.

  • Purchase your golden shiners. Visit a hatchery and check the quality of the shiners.

  • Introduce your shiners to the pond and allow them to rest for a full day before feeding them.

  • Keep a record of the amount of commercial food you feed the shiners. Feed your golden shiners a commercial fish food that contains small worms such as fly larvae or mealworms.

  • Leave your shiners undisturbed and allow them to spawn.

  • Keep a record of the size of shiners every 2 months. Scoop up shiners with 6-foot nylon net. Measure the length of the shiner from head to tail. Once your shiners reach 2 to 3 inches, they will be ready to harvest as bait.

Tips & Warnings

  • Golden shiners are a resilient species of fish but are easily susceptible to diseases and parasites. Invest in chemicals to fight disease and monitor your shiners for illness.
  • A bubble aerator will circulate water in a pond and keep entire sections cool. Water that is too warm can make shiners susceptible to illness.
  • Make sure to place plenty of plants in your pond. Golden shiners will hide and spawn among the thick vegetation and grassy areas.
  • A commercial fish food mimics the natural diet of the golden shiners and will allow your shiners to grow fast and thrive in their new habitat.
  • Golden shiners are not caretakers of their offspring and within a few days after hatching, the fry start competing for food with adults.
  • Large game fish in the pond can significantly reduce the numbers of golden shiners.
  • Do not collect golden shiners from a local stream or pond. The shiners could carry diseases and transport the disease to your pond.

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  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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